How to Fell a Tree

 

Have your eye on a tree.

Consider carefully, is it really dead?

 

Gather your tools.

Gather yourself.

Study your tree.

Take some time.

Observe—the trunk, the width, the breadth,

the twists and turns.

Consider the wind.

Be still.

Give thanks—for oxygen, for shelter, for shade, for beauty.

 

Set your course.

Consider the angle.

Aim true.

Make your first cut.

Be gentle; do not rush.

Recalculate.

Tenderly cut some more.

Reassess.

 

The tree is still dead.

Your angle is true.

Take a risk.

Commit to your angle.

Breathe.

 

Thoughtfully, calculate your second angle.

This one’s higher than the first.

With sadness and gratitude, dig in.

You are now committed.

There is no turning back.

But remember, the tree was already dead.

It’s still dead.

Doing something different will not save it.

With sadness and gratitude,

finish your second angle.

 

Remove the wedge you have created.

You have made space.

Removed the old, readying the new.

Take a break.

Observe your handiwork.

Keep breathing.

Regard the wind.

Study your flight path.

Calculate your third angle.

Resume your labor.

Take your time.

 

Pound in a new wedge.

Ease the tree past its tipping point.

Make another stroke.

Stand aside and wait for gravity to do its work.

Your part is done.

 

Watch your tree fall.

Feel the rush of wind.

Inhale the quick, sharp movement.

Honor its strength.

Marvel at the power.

Let your heart well up with gratitude for all this tree has offered.

 

Mourn the collateral damage.

Gather strength from the knowledge that you have done your best.

Remember that the tree was already dead.

You did not kill it.

You merely hastened nature’s course.

Give thanks–

for oyxgen, for shelter, for shade, for beauty.

Things Not to Worry About

I don’t know about you, but I catch myself worrying far too often, and usually about inconsequential things. If it is true that our brains can only hold one thought at a time, then why do I spend precious moments worrying about all sorts of improbable scenarios rather than focus on the joy, and light, and beauty that is right in front of my eyes?

At this very moment, for example, I am writing from my dining room, where the sun is shining brightly, warming up my back and neck, a balm after the chilly weather we’ve been subjected to this week. I can see my outline reflected on my computer screen, and in this outline, (which is gentler on the psyche than a real mirror), it looks like I’m having a good hair day and am wearing some pretty cool earrings.

My silhouette is framed by a bright blue sky and the nearly-barren branches of my favorite backyard tree. This tree fools us every year. We think it’s dead, and then, in its own way, in its own timing, it suddenly bursts into bloom and fills the yard with fragrance. Even in the winter when its leaves are gone, it stands tall and reminds me of what strength looks like.

The light gradually shifts, and suddenly a rainbow illuminates the paragraph I’m writing. (The light also illuminates all the fingerprints and smudges on my screen, but today I’m choosing to ignore them.) The furnace kicks in and I raise a mental “thank you” for a warm house and enough money to pay the heating bill.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee, in her book—“—“Things I Learned from Knitting…Whether I Wanted to or Not”, gave me a good laugh today. In her chapter, aptly titled: “Don’t worry, be happy” McPhee lists “5 things WORRYING NON-KNITTERS HAVE WARNED ME ABOUT” :

  1. Knitting needles are very pointy. I could put out my eye at any moment.
  2. If I were knitting while in a car and there happened to be an accident, I could be impaled or even killed by my own knitting.
  3. If I am not very careful, I or someone else could become entangled in my yarn and be unable to elude or escape danger.
  4. If I am a victim of a crime or terrorism, my knitting needles could be grabbed and turned against me as a weapon.
  5. If I’m sitting and knitting in the presence of children, one of them could run into my knitting while playing and be impaled, have an eye put out, become entangled, or, heaven forbid, all of the above. “

When I read the above list of worries, it puts my own mental loop into perspective, and I just shake my head and laugh at my silly old self. I don’t need to shame her, she’s just doing the best she can, and old habits die hard.

Speaking of habits, did any of you make new year’s resolutions? Mine were pretty simple this year: Honor my gifts, and …something else that I can’t remember at the moment. Maybe the worry got in the way again, I wouldn’t be surprised. But I’ll choose to be amused. I’m sure it will come back to me when the time is right.

 

 

 

 

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